Hello Norman, for those who don’t already know you, please introduce yourself!
My name is Norman Di Palo, I’m from Naples but I live in Rome, though currently I live in Helsinki and I work as an AI researcher in a startup. I have a degree in Automation Engineering where I worked on control and intelligent systems. That’s how I started being interested in cognitive robotics, so I started looking for a Master’s degree that would also include Artificial Intelligence. I’m about to graduate now and I’m working on my Master’s thesis.
As for as my work, I founded a startup together with my colleagues. I’m also working in a Pi School and we are involved in making a Pi school where, twice a year, we choose 15 engineering students, any talented figures from around the world. We carry out AI studies and solve problems given to us by companies, including Amazon, BNL, Cisco and Poste Italiane. I am an AI Advisor and Project Manager of some of these projects.
Could you tell us what led you into the sector of robotics?
While I was in high school, I started to think about my future at university and I was interested in studying physics, a subject I always liked. I have to say that it actually had a narrower future than robotics. It is becoming increasingly difficult to make concrete discoveries and many theories have reached a saturation point. I started with automation because it is a branch of engineering that embraces computer science, electronics and mechanics and seemed to have a much wider scope. That’s what happened and it has taught me lessons related to various sectors. Nevertheless, in the end, I noticed that it was too industry-driven, with robotics that always perform the same functions. Meanwhile, I began to be fascinated by concepts of artificial intelligence, the ability of machines to perform actions that can be classified as intelligent.
As you are interested in these topics, have you ever thought about building a proper AI community?
In fact, one community has just been recently launched by me and two colleagues of mine: Simone Scardapane, and Damiano Gambitta. We launched Tensorflow Rome.
One of the talks that you presented during the #AperiTech meetups was entitled “Design in the Age of AI”. Would you like to tell us a little more about it?
I have always been interested not only in Artificial Intelligence but in design, architecture and art as well. For some time, I have been thinking how various programmes such as Photoshop have revolutionised the way a photographer, graphic designer or architect works.
The talk shows how intelligent algorithms allow designers not to lose as much work as many people think they do when talking about AI, but instead to be able to communicate with the computer on a more human level.
Do you feel like giving some advice to anyone reading this interview?
From my experience, I recommend getting out there and doing things and not having all your eggs in one basket but distributing your work among local communities, blogs, universities, etc. This creates a truly remarkable exchange of ideas, which not only makes everyone grow but also help you to build your own personal brand. I would suggest everyone attending meetups, learning new things, meeting like-minded people, also challenging yourself… preparing presentations and becoming a speaker!